Fox leaning toward not using open scholarship

semerson@macon.comMay 14, 2014 

Georgia Arkansas Basketball

Georgia head coach Mark Fox reacts to a call during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against Arkansas in Fayetteville, Ark., Thursday, Feb. 21, 2013. Arkansas won 62-60. (AP Photo/April L. Brown)

APRIL BROWN — AP

TIFTON - Georgia’s men’s basketball team has one scholarship open for this year, but head coach Mark Fox seems to be leaning towards holding it until next year.

“We were actively considering filling it, but we may end up having to hold it,” Fox said Wednesday.

Fox said if they used the scholarship this year “it’s gotta be a really good player” because of the players they have returning.

“We’ve got depth right now. So it’s gotta be a really good player,” Fox said. “Or a transfer.”

But apparently that transfer will not be Robert Carter, who is leaving Georgia Tech after two seasons. Georgia was one of the finalists for Carter, a post player, out of high school, and was interested in recruiting him again. But Georgia Tech has denied Georgia the permission to contact Carter, Georgia athletics director Greg McGarity confirmed.

Fox asked UGA's compliance office to contact their counterparts at Georgia Tech to secure permission. When it was denied, McGarity called Georgia Tech athletics director Mike Bobinski, who did not relent.

"It's just a philosophical difference," McGarity said. "It's disappointing. Life is too short."

Bobinski told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that the decision was made because the Yellow Jackets play the Bulldogs every year.

The only way Carter could end up on scholarship at Georgia now would be if he paid his own way this next year. But that only happens in rare cases, though it did with one of Fox's former players at Nevada: When Fox left for Georgia, Malik Cooke transferred to South Carolina, and paid his own way for a year before going on scholarship for his final two seasons. Nevada had declined to give Cooke a full release.

“This is not something which is so much a Georgia thing as it is we compete against them every year,” Bobinski told the AJC. “That’s a pretty standard industry-wide practice.”

Meanwhile, Fox indicated that one more high-profile game may join the schedule.

The Bulldogs are already set to host Seton Hall, Colorado and Mercer, and play at Kansas State, Georgia Tech, Chattanooga, as well as play in the Preseason NIT. While addressing the UGA Day crowd in Tifton, Fox mentioned the Preseason NIT then added: "We may have one more (tough) game before that we've yet to announce."

Georgia’s non-conference performances the past two years has proved to be its undoing: 6-7 two years ago, 6-6 last year. This past year that non-conference performance was the undoing for what otherwise probably would have been an NCAA trip. This upcoming year, Fox has elected to keep the schedule relatively tough.

“We’ve always scheduled pretty tough, and we added more this year," Fox said. "But last year if Kentavious (Caldwell-Pope) comes back we don’t have a slow start. The year before we were very young, starting some young guys. But this year we return more than we’ve returned, probably ever.”

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